Taking the Keys Away

At some point in time you will feel the concern or even the fear that your parents or elderly friends should no longer drive a vehicle. For anyone, this can be a very difficult and emotional experience. Knowing when its the right time to take away the keys requires important deliberations, considerations and possible actions that you the caregiver will have to face.

The first thing you should know is that a person’s age is not and shouldn’t be the reason for taking away their car keys. There are people in their 80s and 90s who have their licenses and drive actively and safely, while there are others in their 50s and 60s who are dangers to themselves and others when behind the wheel. The physical and mental conditions and the persons abilities are the first factors you need to consider. Driving takes dexterity and strength in both arms and legs/feet to be able to control the vehicle at all times. If your physical ability is off then the whole driving performance will be off too, which can cause an accident.

The second thing you need to consider is if the driver is on any medications or if they have any diseases. Alzheimer’s disease is very common and the driver can become disoriented almost anywhere and severe diabetics may fall into a coma at anytime. Along with these diseases, prescription medications can produce specific changes or functions within the body. Some reactions may be drowsiness and possibly slowing down person’s reaction time, which may effect a person’s ability to drive.

If you aren’t sure how to determine if its time to take away your parents keys, do a ride along with them. Taking a ride with your parent is the best way to observe his or her physical abilities in controlling the vehicle, staying within the lane, how they handle turns, the driving speed, and for any possible confusions in traffic. Make sure that your observations are done without nagging them on or causing a distraction for them. Lastly, be sure that when you finally decide that its time, that you are respectful and understanding when speaking with the driver. This can always be an emotional time for them, so being honest and providing them comfort will help make this experience a lot less stressful.

Safety Tips for Back to School

bigstock-Watch-Out-For-Children-427446As children across Middlesex County head #backtoschool this week, they will again be sharing the roads with school buses, other young pedestrians, and bicyclists.  Whether your children walk, ride their bike, or take the bus, help ensure they take the proper safety precautions​.

Children who walk to school:  When walking, stay on the sidewalk if one is available. If the street does not have a sidewalk, walk facing the traffic so as to have a clear view of the traffic.  When crossing a street,  look left, right and left again to see if any cars, buses, or bicyclists are coming.  If possible, make a point to set time aside to practice walking their route to school.  Together you can use pedestrians signals, ensure they are crossing streets correctly, and get a good idea of the path they are taking.

Children who bike to school: When riding a bike to and from school, children should always wear a proper fitted helmet and sneakers at all times. The same procedures apply when crossing the street.  Riders must come to complete stop, look left, right and left again, and always walk their bike across the street. Parents should practice and teach children the rules of the road to help insure they get to school safe and sound.

Children who ride the bus to school: Rain or shine, the big yellow bus gets the children to school. To ensure a safe ride to school, make sure children stand six feet away from the curb when a bus is pulling up or driving away. Remind children to fasten their seat belts and to remain seated throughout the ride.  While it’s exciting to chat with friends, children should keep  screaming and jumping for the playground and home so that the driver can focus on the road.

Regardless of how children make their way to school, we wish everyone a safe and enjoyable school year!

Big Game Day Safety Tips

This Sunday marks the day football fans across the US wait for all year – the Big Game!   Whether you are hosting or attending a local gathering, be sure to play it smart and be safe.

Are you hosting?

1. Be sure your guests have designated drivers or check whether they have planned to use Uber or Lyft.

2.Keep the numbers of local cabs handy.

3. Serve high protein foods and make sure to have plenty of water and non-alcoholic drinks on hand.

4. Stop serving alcohol at the beginning of the 4th quarter.  Brew a large pot of coffee or tea and serve dessert.

 

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Are you attending a party or joining friends at a local bar?

1. Pace yourself and make sure to eat and alternate with water or other non-alcohol paintings.

2. Be sure to have a designated driver or give your keys to your party host.

3. Stop drinking at the beginning of the 4th quarter and order a coffee.

 

Remember the Big Game is supposed to a fun gathering with family and friends, together cheering and celebrating.  Be safe and be smart.

 

Tips Source: http://www.nj.gov/oag/Superbowl-SafetyTips(2×3).pdf

Winter Walking Safety Tips

http://health.sunnybrook.ca/wellness/safety-tips-winter-walking-snow/
Photo Credit *

Now that the winter has arrived temperatures will be dropping and snow will fall from the sky. With snow comes ice, and with ice comes slips and falls. Mother Nature might be the one to blame for the sleet and snow, but who is to blame for the slips and falls?

As a pedestrian it’s your job to be aware of your surroundings at all times. If you know that snow is headed your way make sure to plan ahead. Here’s how:

Before you walk out the door, make sure that you wear the proper footwear. Proper footwear should place the entire foot on the surface of the ground, like sneakers or snow boots. You should avoid a smooth sole and shoes with flat bottoms.

While walking on snow or icy sidewalks or parking lots, always walk consciously. Be sure to take your time and don’t rush. People think that by looking down while walking helps, when really this isn’t true. Instead of looking down, you should look up and see where your feet will move next. This method allows you to anticipate ice or any uneven surfaces. Along with taking your time, you should occasionally scan from left to right to ensure that you aren’t in the way of vehicles or other hazards.

Injuries during the winter aren’t always from slipping on ice, but can also result from falling snow/ice as it blows, melts, or breaks away from awnings, buildings, etc. If you are a home or business owner, make sure sidewalks and walkways (and any overhangs) are cleared of any snow, ice or other slippery materials that could get in the way of the pedestrian.

Whether you’re walking to and from parking lots, between buildings at work, or even at home on your sidewalk, walk cautious and walk alert. Slips and falls are the most frequent types of injuries that occur during the winter season. No matter how well the snow and ice is removed from parking lots and sidewalks, it’s imperative to walk smart.

 

*http://health.sunnybrook.ca/wellness/safety-tips-winter-walking-snow/

Back to School Safety

Picture Source: http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/back-to-school-safety-tips-for-drivers.aspx
Picture Source: http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/back-to-school-safety-tips-for-drivers.aspx

With #backtoschool in full swing, many of us have noticed the inevitable; more cars and more congestion.  Back to school means sharing the roads and slowing down. There are school buses picking up kids from multiple stops, kids on bikes are rushing to get to school on time, and parents are trying to drop their kids off before work.

If you are someone who is dropping off your kids to school, make sure that the area is clear before letting them get out of the car. More children are hit by cars/buses near schools than at any other location, according to the National Safe Routes to School program. Before dropping off your kids be sure you are not double parked. This blocks visibility for other vehicles passing by. Do not drop off your kids across the street from their school, even though it may be more convenient for you. Carpooling is also a great way to reduce the number of vehicles around the school, which decreases the chances of a child getting hit.  Don’t block crosswalks- especially when you are stopped at a red light. Be sure to give the pedestrians the right away, whether they are walking or riding a bike. When you are in school zone and flashers are blinking, be sure to come to a complete stop and watch for children. Lastly, do your best to watch out for your children in school zones, playgrounds and residential areas, as well as the other children around them.

During school hours, there will be more and more school buses on the roads. If you are ever driving behind a school bus, you should always allow a greater following distance than you would driving behind a car. This then allows you to have more time to stop once the bus puts on it’s yellow flashing lights. Never pass a school bus if you are stopped behind them while they are picking up children. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children. Passing a school bus from either direction on an undivided road, can potentially put children who are loading or unloading in danger if they are unaware that you are coming.

We are all responsible – as pedestrians and drivers, to make #backtoschool a safe return!

 

Think before you Drive!

Picture Source: http://baristanet.com/2014/12/drive-sober-get-pulled-campaign-crackdown-begins-today/

Summertime is a time where many people gather to enjoy their free time with friends and family. These can also be some of the most deadly times on the roads due to impaired driving. One of the deadliest and most often committed crimes is #drunkdriving. It is a serious safety epidemic in our country and across the world.

During the summer a nationwide campaign composed of thousands of traffic safety partner all join together to protect the public. The 2016 national drunk driving enforcement “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” goes into effect from August 17 to September 5, 2016. Prevention and arrest are the goals of this campaign. Drivers must perceive that the risk of being caught is too high before their behavior will change.

If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement right away. Your actions may save someone’s life, and inaction could cost them their life. By increasing law enforcement efforts, raising the publics awareness, and maximizing your local resources, can make a huge difference to save more lives on roadways.

Here are 5 tips to remember for the next time you gather with friends and family and before you go out on the road:
  1. Be responsible. If you know that someone is drinking, do not let that person get into a car and drive away.
  2. Have a designated driver. A good way to figure this out is to decide who’s going to be doing the driving before you go out. Also make sure that person doesn’t drink any alcoholic beverages.
  3. Call a taxi or Uber as a back up. Sometimes you cannot rely on all designated drivers.
  4. Take keys. You shouldn’t be afraid to take someone’s car keys if you know that they have been drinking and that you are going to save their life.
  5. If you know that you have had too much to drink, stay put and sober up.

Make the Most of Family Fun Month!

Now that it’s August, summer may feel like it’s over. Back to school shopping has already begun and vacations are coming to an end. However, that doesn’t mean that the summer fun has to stop!

August is National Family Fun Month, which means that it’s a great opportunity to seize the remainder of summer by spending time with family. If you are about family togetherness, here are some cool activities to help you and your family finish out the summer.

IMG_2188Day trips are a great way to spend time with the family. If you checked the weather forecast and it’s going to be hot/sunny, then plan a trip to the beach. Enjoy the fresh air and the cool water. If the water isn’t your families thing, then a trip to the zoo is something that is both lively and educational. A competitive game of miniature golf can be fun or even a trip to an amusement park can make for much laughter and fun.  But before you take any of these trips, make sure to download the #njtrafficapp. This FREE app allows you to see the road conditions across NJ and helps you plan accordingly.

Jump on your bicycles and take a family bike ride.  Make sure everyone is wearing properly fitted helmets and all bikes are in good riding condition.  Bring plenty of water and sunscreen and discover new ways to appreciate your neighborhood.  If you are more adventurous, visit NJ Family Biking for a complete list of trails to ride.

Have Pokemon fans in your house?  Lace up your sneakers and take a walk with the family.  Most public places provide ample Pokemon balls and critters are everywhere to be found.  Just be sure to review pedestrian safety tips before you head out.

And when the day is coming to close, consider having a family movie night.  Pick out your favorite family movie, get the popcorn ready and relax with the kids!

Spending time with family is a great way to make memories that will last with you for the rest of your life. Make sure to take part in August Family Fun Month. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you are safe and are having fun with your family!

Pokemon GO ~ Safety Tips!

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Have you recently noticed gaggles of people walking in groups with their attention focused on the phones in their hand? They seem to be looking for something, find it, and then continue on their way – all without once looking up from their phones? Well, we have answers for you. It’s called
Pokemon GO and although it’s fun to play, it’s a pedestrian safety hazard!

Pokemon GO is an interactive game where users capture Pokemon characters in real-time and actual locations.  If you are like me (40+ years old) this makes absolutely no sense, right?  But bear with me.  The game encourages users to walk around their neighborhoods.  With eyes glued to their handheld device, the screen converts to a camera screen and just feet ahead of them lies a Pokemon character waiting for capture.  The farther and longer they walk, the more characters they can capture.  And the more characters they capture, the more points and levels they earn.

So what’s the harm in this game?  People of all ages are walking more and spending more times in their community. Seems like a terrific idea, right?   After walking close to 12,000K steps following my children around our neighborhood this weekend, the safety issues are plentiful.

Sure ,it was wonderful that my children wanted to walk around town with me, but by the end of our adventure, I was ready to put them on leashes.   They were walking into other pedestrians (some of whom were also playing this game), walking too closely to curbs and nicely manicured bushes and plants, and even walking into crosswalks!  I spent the better part of the walk yelling commands.    It was an “eye”opening experience (pun totally intended)!

(null)As a parent and a from a safety standpoint, I share with you these 3 tips to make your Pokemon GO experience safe.

  1. Although the app suggests its users be 10 years old,  if your children are under the age of 15, I recommend the app be downloaded to YOUR phone. That way, you can join them on their adventure.
  2. Designate one person to hold the phone and the others to navigate the path so as to avoid walking into others, crossing streets without looking and tripping over uneven sidewalks.
  3. Since the app’s release, some users have been lured to secluded places and robbed. Be sure to review the safety features on your profile.  Many features can make the user vulnerable to others finding them since the app is also multiplayer.

The game was just released on July 6, 2016.  Be prepared to see, hear, and learn more about Pokemon GO.  Most importantly, play the game safely and never play the game alone.

 

 

 

 

Have you met the Wexters?

Whether or not you can place the name, you have met the Wexters.  You’ve probably bumped into them on the street.  The Wexters are folks who walk and text at the same time.fear-of-the-zombie-apocalypse

You’ve seen these distracted pedestrians ambling down the sidewalk, through the parking lot, and across the street with eyes down as they busily text, talk, or listen to music all at the same time.  With no idea what is going on around them, the Wexters are dangerous to themselves and others.

There are reports of distracted pedestrians that have walked into utility and sign posts, bumped into walls and other pedestrians, and stepped in front of moving cars. Occasionally, we hear of the distracted pedestrian who walked into a glass door or into a fountain.  Let us not forget the woman who fell into Lake Michigan.  A study published by the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) revealed 40% have witnessed a distracted pedestrian incident and 25% admitted their own involvement in an incident.

It’s easy to laugh.  In fact, 22% of AAOS respondents think distracted walking mishaps are “funny.”  But incidents like these are no joke.  Serious injuries can and do occur.  In 2013, Ohio State University released a nationwide study which reported 256 distracted pedestrian emergency room visits in 2005.  Five years later, in 2010, the number rose more than 500% to 1,506.  This does not account for visits to personal physicians.

Avoid becoming a Wexter:

  • Keep volume on headphone low enough to hear traffic.
  • Focus on the people, objects, and obstacles around you.
  • Obey traffic signals.  Don’t jaywalk.
  • Look up especially at curbs, stairs, and escalators.
  • If you must make a call or text, step to the side, out of the way of pedestrians and traffic.

Photo credit: Found online. Unable to trace source

A Close Call Close to Work ~ Part 1

They say your life passes before your eyes just before you die.  I don’t know if that’s true but a close call on May 27 made me realize I‘m not eager to find out.

Walking back from lunch, I stopped at a 3 way intersection about a block from KMM.  There are 3 stop signs and a speed limit of 25 MPH.  Signage reminds drivers to stop for pedestrians who are crossing the one way street.  On this bright, sunny day, there were no vehicles in the intersection and none approaching. I looked left then right, and feeling it was  safe, I stepped off of the curb and began to cross.

Suddenly, from the corner of my eye, I noticed a SUV barreling toward me.  Speeding closer and closer, the vehicle showed no signs of slowing down let alone stopping.  It was going to hit me. With seconds to spare, I rushed back to the sidewalk. I focused my eyes on the driver, a well-dressed 60-ish man.  A woman was in the passenger seat.  The couple appeared to be arguing and looking at each other, not the street.

In the panic stricken moments that followed, I realized I was lucky to be alive, but was too stunned to scream, “you almost killed me!”  Bill Neary, my colleague, witnessed the incident, and did the yelling for me. But, it didn’t matter.  The SUV was long gone and the driver totally unaware of the near miss.

Back in my office, I sat silently, taking deep breaths, and replaying the entire incident in my mind.  I asked myself, “how did this happen?”

As a transportation specialist involved with traffic safety issues, I mentally reviewed the 3 Es of traffic management — Engineering, Enforcement and Education.  The engineering and enforcement aspects including road design, pavement markings, speed limit and stop signs to control traffic were all present.  The missing element was education.

Anyone who sits behind the wheel must respect the rules of the road and understand the risks and dangers of driving.  Drivers must stay ALERT and pay attention to roadway conditions, speed limits and traffic signs. A driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or who is experiencing rage, anger, or other distractions should not drive until he or she is back to normal, especially in a downtown setting with many pedestrians walking around during the lunch hour.

This incident made me I realize that I am not only responsible for my own behavior and safety but, I must also be mindful of the improper driving behaviors of others. It reminded me that life is so unpredictable and that we should never take it for granted.  You never know if you can go back home.pedSlide1